Reports: Russ Solomon, Founder of Tower Records, Dies at 92

March 6, 2018 Updated: March 6, 2018

The founder of Tower Records, Russ Solomon, reportedly passed away at the age of 92 while watching the Oscars.

The Sacramento Bee reported that he died while drinking whiskey and had a “smart-aleck remark on his lips.” The newspaper also reported that he died of a heart attack at his Sacramento, California-area home.

Michael Solomon, the former chief executive of Tower Records, said, “Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked (his wife) Patti to refill his whiskey.” But when she returned, he had died.

Tower Records went out of business in 2006 after filing for bankruptcy a second time. The firm was founded in 1960 and operated retail stores in the United States, Ireland, Japan, Israel, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and other locations.

“Long aisles were packed with bins containing thousands of titles in every imaginable genre. The stores stayed open late and became evening hangouts,” wrote Variety magazine in an obituary about Solomon and Tower Records. “The Towers on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and Broadway in New York’s Greenwich Village were landmarks in their own right.”

And as Solomon told Billboard magazine in 2015: “Our favorite regular was Elton John. He probably was the best customer we ever had. He was in one of our stores every week, literally, wherever he was—in L.A., in Atlanta when he lived in Atlanta, and in New York,” the New York Times reported.

Solomon said that his business didn’t really take off until 1968 when he opened a store in San Francisco.

“I stole ideas from supermarket merchandising,” Solomon said, per the Times.


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